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Sound and Silence

when necessary, use words

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imagemaking

Zane Lang encounters Zane Lang

“Zane Lang encounters Zane Lang”, a film by Patrick Royal:

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avatar cloud

luminescence

AllMother

universe organism

deep ecumenism

mandala congregation

post-gravitational

sky roots

Sawubona

Wise Wilderness Wild Wisdom

cosmic tribe

Toxic Apocalyptic

“ngumuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”

Grace

scintillation

Tree City

pansacred

terrestrial reef

magnificent diversity

myopia 

betrayal

trojan horse

Sky Tree

light of the world

Aho Mitakye Oyisin

“I see you”

At One

suicide machine

OneField

The Sout Project on YouTube

I have uploaded a Sout Project introductory video to YouTube:

Afrika Burn 2008 syncroblog

Calling all … all blogging burners, survivalist aesthetes, desert rats, sacred activists, uberjollers, gonzo journalists, hippies reincarnate, diehard libertarians, cultural creatives, nieue afrikaanians, glocal emergents, even just voyers, lurkers and wannabes.

Going out on Monday 26 October 2008, participate in a post-AB08 synbcroblog. Reflect collectively on our experience in words and images.

For those who haven’t done so, a syncroblog is a peer-to-peer similtaneous blog posting, in which you contribute your offering together with links from all other participants to theirs. This way we can host in our usual online space but still be linked to each other. Once your post URL is ready, submit it to me here via a comment and I will compile the list of participants. You can then copy and paste it into your own blog post.

So on Monday 26th (1 week after the event), first thing am, I will create the list and post it here. Copy it and edit your offering, and the syncroblog is away. It’s a great way to get an overview, and for lazy press hacks to purloin plenty of excellant material concerning local Burner Culture. But, in a gifting economy, plagiarism is impossible, right?

Calling AVJ Twinstar…

moses and the burning bush from //arnold-friberg.com/What is a “calling?”.

Why are many seemingly happy people not vexed with this question? Are they not listening? Are they not called? Does a calling presuppose a “Caller”? And how, on earth and in heaven, did Moses do it?

Wo wo wo, timeout: this question can be a can of worms.

My consideration is not theological or theoretical, so don’t expect too much theory here. For me, the holy fool, the question of vocation is a messy, dank, all too real Continue reading “Calling AVJ Twinstar…”

The shamanic shadow in the new testament.

In “The shamanic shadow in the old testament“, I did a lightweight survey of shamanic myths and practices throughout the Pentateuch, poetry and prophets, moving in a more or less linear way through time.

I now want to continue to examine the rest of the canonical bible. This time however, I’d like to start at the “end” and move towards the “centre”, ending up at the crux of the matter – Jesus Christ.

John of the Revelation
Lakota trinity from mattstone.blogs.com
The Revelation was written by John (not necessarily the same John as author of the Gospel or disciple of Jesus) while in a state of exile on the isle of Patmos. It is possibly the most controversial book of the 66 and its inclusion in the canon was not unanimous.

Revelation has been open to misinterpretations by readers (with an underdeveloped sense of the metaphorical) confused by the relationship between the literal and metaphor. This includes looking for inappropriate meanings in its rich set of symbols and reading chronological events into its structure.

Aside from fitting Revelations into one or another agenda, one of the reasons for this wildly varied speculation is no doubt as a result of ignorance of its literary genre, known as Apocalyptic. (Daniel is another example of this). One feature of Apocalyptic literature is an abundance of highly symbolic imagery.

Continue reading “The shamanic shadow in the new testament.”

idol-icon

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” [Matthew 6:24]

“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.” [Carl Jung]

“… a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” [2 Pet 2:19]

Having just read Peter Rollins’ brilliant “How (not) to speak of God“, and learned a little about his community IKON, I have been made aware of a fascinating duality. I speak of idols and icons, more generally put the iconic and the idolotrous. IKON presents itsself as having 5 significant facets: iconic, apocalyptic, heretical, emerging and failing. Regarding the duality we are discussing here, this is how they view it:

“Idolatry can be understood as the sin of viewing something as that which renders God’s very essence visible to human experience […] either aesthetic (like the Golden Calf mentioned in the book of Exodus) or conceptual. In the later we make God intelligible by constructing a doctrinal image which we view as a manifestation of Gods essence.

To treat something as an icon is to see it as that which draws us into a deep contemplation of that which cannot be reduced to words, images or experience.”

So an Idol is a created thing usurping the place of the creator. An Icon is a created thing mediating between created and creator. Although it initially appears clear cut, the line between them is surprisingly hard to define once one starts to explore it.

One main point in “How (not) to speak of God” is that of the nature of the idol: idols are traditionally thought of as statues or things but can be conceptual. This can mean any ideology, such as Consumerism, Materialism, Unfettered Industrial Progress or Militarism, but as it turns out, is very often Theology. The very thing we think of as sacred, as the opposite of these human, fallen thoughts can turn out to be an idol. What I term “Biblism”, a combination of literalism, superstition and piety, is an example of this close to home.

Here is the problem: If we refuse to examine this, and therefore tacitly accept our adopted, underlying, and default myths, we can never be sure of what we are worshiping. For example to deny that our theology might be our relativistic view of truth rather than THE absolute truth, opens us to idolatry. Socrates famously said that the unexamined life was not worth living. But more than that, the unexamined life may in fact be our ticket to destruction.

What we will not countenance will master us. It’s only in facing our deeply held myths that we either “prove” them or dispel them. This is why fundamentalism is so toxic. It prevents the healer from accessing the true problem by denying that the problem exists. If we misdiagnose our ills, they will probably kill us.

I have been discussing issues of inclusivity in Towards radical inclusion, and I mentioned the paradox “not with me is against me – not against you is for you”; I quote once again here from Luke 11: 

“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters. When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”

Adding to these thoughts, the “exclusion” hinted at in Luke 11:23 is an unwillingness to actively and continuously follow Jesus. Many people come to faith / join a church / theological tradition and then adopt an “arrival” mentality. They feel that they have “crossed the line”, are justified by faith, confession or membership, and become passive. The culture and assumptions of the organisation they find themselves in probably contribute handsomely to this false sense of security, due to its questionable assumptions about what constitutes being included and where the line of salvation is drawn.

So what happens to the apathetic believer? Jesus suggests that whatever idols / demons / wrong views of G-d and the cosmos were dispelled upon repentance will return sevenfold. The state of an apathetic, conservative, non-thinking orthodoxy is many times worse than the “pre-Christian” one.

I really detest the macabre Charismatic fear-mongering view that emphasizes the dangers of demonic possession in this text (although I’m not discounting this entirely), because the underlying “dangers” of apostasy (here’s another word that due to be taken to the cleaners) are not simply evil spirits, but anything idolatrous.

I am aware that the tone of this post is rather negative and critical. But what really excites me is the exploration of the iconic. I want no more to be an idol destroyer than an idol erector. Idols are boring. The desire for life draws me in the direction of icons – questions of mediation, imagemaking, inventive theology, the creation of icons, and new liturgies remain upmost in my mind.

Curating Sacred Sound and Image

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”

avj twinstar

AVJ Twinstar here: It’s a good time to summarise the state of my art. Like all things, any given expression of our souls is a meeting of influences. Some joined the river recently, others can be traced back to the beginning…

I have just assembled a fully functioning AVJ rig. You don’t know what this means, because I just made it up. AVJ is a multimedia marriage of the DJ and VJ aesthetics, in short, and Audio-Visual Jockey. It must be said I don’t care for either of these terms. Audio-Visual has a technical ring I’d like to escape, and the role of Jockey I feel might better be described as Curator. But AVJ has a certain je ne c’est quoi, and I’ll keep it.

So for near on 30 years I have been a musician. I have been interested in sound, and the organisation thereof, otherwise called music. I have been through several phases in this: Rock, Jazz, World, African, Songwriter, Electronica, ECM, all totaling 3 decades. I whole heartedly pursued the disciplines of music, the techniques of guitar and saxophone, theory, songwriting, and recording, as a sustained journey. Did I master any? I’ve given up asking that question, and there is no conclusive evidence in either direction.

AVJ twinstar rigBut in recent years and months, I have been exploring image. But I’m no drawer, painter or sculptor. AND my eyes are finding it increasingly hard to see the detail of things without glasses, too. But there is something in imagemaking, in how pictures, photographs, movies, symbols, even words interact with us that has me under its spell.

Further to that I suspect that as we emerge from modernism, the role of words as the dominant carrier of truth is no longer appropriate. Images, in the age of Film, TV and the internet, are at least equal partners in communicating any messages. Theologically, it is equally valid to say “G-d as the Logos, spoke”, or that “G-d as the Light, shone”. I don’t see why the language of words should feel superior to images in a post-modern culture. Or that images are only alright if they support our sales pitches, lectures or sermons. Powerpointism … an illustration must know its place, it is to serve the spoken and written message.

Edirol V4What I have assembled is by no means perfect or the ultimate AVJ rig, but it works for me. By acquiring an Edirol V4 visual mixer, I now have the hub of a large range of visual sources. A mixer takes multiple inputs and routes them to multiple outputs, enabling the seamless switching and creative combining of images.

Photographs, scans, words and texts, moving image, input from microscopes, oscilloscopes, skype-o-scopes (I googled that and guess what I got NO matches – what a relief to know there are places the googlebot has never been), browsers with internet content or Powerpoint shows can all be combined in real time.

But the best thing is how live camera feeds can form an integral part of the projected output. This means that Liturgy – the work of the people – becomes enabled by making the content the participants themselves. What is this show about? It’s about US. It is integral to community.

As in good conversation, every idea is fair game. If you want to quote Oscar Wilde and you know him, you can. If you want to press a point a little further, you can. If you want to draw people’s attention to a passing cloud formation, you can. In theory any available image can be recalled and combined as desired.

What this takes is someone who sees film as a performance art, and someone who is accepts the curator’s role. A curator in this sense is not just a functionary: the watchman of premises and its contents, with no real feel for or relationship to the collection of works housed at a point in time. A curator is someone who cares for the images of a community.

Further, it is a creative who does not claim exclusive authorship of the content, or may in fact, have no authoring role whatsoever, but who can present sound or images to a gathering in such a way as to read the moods of the room, and in the case of the sacred curator, the will of the spirit too.

The DJ is perhaps the best example of a curator of sounds, songs or perhaps just clips or rhythm. I’ve had a lifelong prejudice against this emblem of our culture, mainly because I saw myself as an author of music, and the DJ was the slaggard who took whatever glory might be inherent in the music with absolutely no role in its creation. I wasn’t surprised but was still amazed to hear this DJ exclaim “Scheesh dude, I suppose now that S*sha is doing it, we will all have to get into production”. Hey, I thought, all I wanted to do for about 10 years before I could afford a Tascam 4-track was record and produce, and you are moaning about having to mimic some vapid pseudo-creator.

VJing comes into the picture on the heels of the fully ascended (but still none the less visually boring) DJ cult, in which randomly accessible images could accompany the music. This form of expression is moving beyond its eye-candy beginnings, with its new and emerging visual language. Nonetheless, almost all VJ activity takes place in clubland, and the idea of the sacred VJ is virtually unknown. Not totally though, The Work of the People is an example of a similar vision.

motion dive tokyoBack to the rigging: I run 2 laptops, one exclusively for (the rather power mad) motion dive tokyo console, a dedicated hardware/software platform for triggering and mixing on-disk images. It contains visual effects too which enable you to composite 2 images in many ways, resulting in hybrid images which are truly fresh.

Most of my material is my own, but I have a library now of natural and urban scenes, notable movie clips, computery graphics, photographs and texts. Always wanted to publicly intersperse your take on what Seal was getting at in “Crazy”, well now you can by fading in your comment or question while he sings “But we’re never going to survive, unless we get a little big.”

It’s about finding truth in unexpected places. You just need the insight to read the poetry in things, and the faith to consecrate that which you believe to bear the sacred. Most moving images are looped – hyper short form film – and can be left to run with great effect.

As in Orthodox worship, some images are iconic, and their very repetition can usher in the sacred. I tend to mute the sound from clips used in this way, as the assumption is the VJ performance will accompany music. However, I can see the potential for using moving image with mime, textual readings, or many other expressions.

Ableton Live 6The other laptop runs both Powerpoint (for clean slideshows, as if) and Ableton Live, a simply superb musical software platform for production, performance and composition. I have used Live for 4 years for songwriting and production of original music, but now it has become a DJ oriented deck for playing my songlists. Additionally, via midi (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) it is able to trigger images on Motion Dive.

Typically I start a song and have the images set up automatically, then VJ live for the rest of the song based on the set up. It’s finding a balance between automation and interaction. I would also like to hook up a USB microscope to this machine so that a gathering might see the ravishing beauty of lichens at 100X or view some sub-visual life form while musing over the wonder of the created order.

Each laptop goes to a V4 input, using dual screen technology so I can retain the Motion dive and Powerpoint master view on their screens. The other 2 inputs are from a live camera and a DVD player. The DVD is really handy for bringing movies or material handed to me in movie format on the spot, into the mix. Also it will play CDs, so one can treat it as a play-all-discs input.

The Camera forms the last source. This is perhaps most important – we are not merely presenting stock footage with which we might have only a vague connection, but much of the input comes from the life and movement, the stories and gestures, of the participants themselves. This presents an opportunity for liturgy – community, creativity and the sacred all working together. By consciously “mediating” – being the medium for – an experience of community, and then projecting these images back to that community, we fill a key role of reflection.

A community should see itself as others see it, and if we bring the classic priestly role into the mix – those who stand between man and G-d – who knows, we might be showing Him-Her to the world.

I’m hopeful that anyone remotely interested in spirituality will see this as a worthy goal.

undefined liturgists – WeTube

God is making a movie. He’s using us all—whoever we are, whatever our gifts, in a cast of billions. We make it what it is—a holy narrative of Love, with a screenplay of astounding complexity, resulting in accolades the likes of which have never been seen or heard. (Ephesians 2 paraphrased)

Friday 27 July, Cape Town: We gathered to explore the parable of Gods Movie under the banner WeTube. Whether or not we cut and post an actual movie remains to be seen, (candles are not optimal lighting for cinematic productions, as we found out) however I think all felt that the event was worth it.

After diving straight in, open spontaneous prayers from a diverse group of people (many who were meeting for the first time), ignited the atmosphere. Prayers of brokenness, desire, and seeking, evoked images of emergence from a silent, desert space, as well as the delight in connectedness revealed.

When we started filming, the screenplay ran seamlessly from one actor to the next. Implicit in the event was the understanding that we were not gathering to perform a precast liturgy, but that the liturgy would emerge from who we are as individuals and as a unique group, to the degree that we authentically brought ourselves into the narrative. Furthermore, unlike the cults of movie celebrity, we brought not our egos nor agendas of power and glamour, but the emptiness which could make place for an expression of Spirit.

Threads of conversation included estate agency as a mission of compassion, Jesus’ words concerning acts towards the least being acts towards himself, a meditation on breath (accompanied by a singing bowl), a reading of TS Elliot’s Marina, cardigan knitting as service, an Islamic enquiry into the nature of church, and the Eucharist served to Van Morrison’s Rave on John Donne.

Living to live in a world of time beyond me; let me
Resign my life for this life, my speech for that unspoken…

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